Apple Inc.

Prominent lawyer Ted Olson has joined Apple’s effort to fight a judge’s order calling on the firm to help the FBI gain access to data on a cellphone used by the San Bernardino terrorists.

Taylor GoldensteinT
February 18, 2016

Legal titan Ted Olson has signed on to help Apple Inc. fight a court order requiring the tech giant to assist the FBI in unlocking a phone belonging to one of the San Bernardino terrorists, court records show.

Olson’s involvement underscores the potential historic nature of the legal dispute, which pits issues of national security with those of consumer privacy.

At the FBI’s request, a U.S. judge in Riverside on Tuesday ordered Apple to help with a key part of the San Bernardino probe by developing software to hack into one of its own devices, an iPhone 5c, used by gunman Syed Rizwan Farook. Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, killed 14 people and wounded 22 others before dying in a shootout with police.

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook has said that obeying the order would set a dangerous precedent, and that creating a “backdoor” to its own security systems could compromise the security of billions of customers.

“Up to this point, we have done everything that is both within our power and within the law to help them,” Cook wrote in a letter published on the company’s website. “But now the U.S. government has asked us for something we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to create.”

Olson and Theodore J. Boutrous Jr. are the attorneys of record representing Apple, according to a court filing. Boutrous and Olson worked together to fight California’s previous ban on same-sex marriage.

Olson is best known for successfully arguing on behalf of George W. Bush in the Supreme Court case Bush vs. Gore, which decided the 2000 presidential election, and for challenging California’s Proposition 8, the measure that banned gay marriage, before the Supreme Court.

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